Tag: Working from home

Written by Deidre Barnes, NOC Head of Learning

Working from home has become a trend. A staggering 74% of respondents in an annual survey conducted by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics believe that flexible working has become the “new normal”. By 2018, 5 million employees in America (4% of the workforce) worked from home more than 50% of the time (Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2018 American Community Service (ACS) data).

Take a 2-minute scroll on any social media platform and you will see lots of people boasting about their “work-from-home” businesses and jobs.Globally employers have caught on to this trend and started realizing the benefits it can bring to any business- from the flexibility it provides to the employees, to time and money saved on commuting, to increased staff attraction and retention. There is also a myriad of studies reporting on the positive impact on the employer-employee relationship due to the demonstration of trust from the employer’s side.

Recently remote working has become not just a luxury, but a necessity to those of us who are fortunate enough to have jobs and businesses that can operate remotely. We suddenly find ourselves with no other option. I can no longer choose to work from home while my kids are all in school and go to the office when I feel the need for a face to face meeting. I can no longer choose to go to a client when the four walls of my home office start to close in on me.

So how do we do it?

A quick Google search will leave you feeling even more overwhelmed with thousands of articles, tips, techniques, and recommended tech. All of them are relevant, helpful, and probably very necessary during this time. I have tested and researched the most popular and common tips and summarize them for you below:

Here are my 5 full-proof tips to kick-start your working-from-home experience:

1. Set Targets

Start every day, knowing exactly what you need to achieve that day. Be very specific and practical about the output you need to produce, and put clear and realistic timelines to these. What will be even more helpful is if you actually write these down and display them somewhere you can see them throughout the day.

Considering that you might be working in a team and most likely have subordinates and/or superiors, it will be a great idea sharing these with them and asking them to do the same. Transparent communication in this setting is even more vital than usual!

2. Find Your Own Rhythm

Find a routine that works for you and your household. Again, write it down and make everyone aware of it. It does not have to be followed to the second or minute, but it helps if you have a guideline to stick to. This will also help you manage the people in your household, because they will know when you have “work-time” and when they should not bother you. It will help you to know when to get into a work mindset and when it is down-time.

Communicate this to your team. Even though you should be accessible to your team within the “normal” working hours, it helps your team to know your general timelines and which times will be better for you to meet and respond to communications.

3. Create a Magical Space

If you are lucky enough to have a home office or study, make this a place you love. Spend some time transforming it to a neat and organised space where everything is set up and ready to help you be productive.Should you not have an entire room to yourself, find a space in your house where you can set up an area for yourself. Make sure everyone knows this is your space to work and that it should be respected. If possible, set it up facing away from any possible distractions. Don’t work in your bed or on the couch in front of the television. It is important to distinguish work time and space from down-time, especially if all of this is happening under the same roof.

4. Make Technology Your Friend

There is no shortage of technological tools to help you be productive from home – the trick is to find what works for you.The usual suspects that help with communication and collaboration are Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and Zoom- although there are thousands more to pick and choose from. For project management, check out Trello – both a website and an app that creates a kind of real-time bulletin board. Action items can be dragged from one category to another, eliminating unwieldy email chains and (real-world) sticky notes, which can pile up with team projects. Basecamp is also a favourite among digital project managers.To avoid thousands of emails being sent and version-confusion rearing its head, ensure your team is using a cloud-based storage and sharing solution like Dropbox or Google Drive. This will make it easier for remote team collaborations.

Also, if you can get some noise-cancelling headphones, this will be a big help to avoid distractions and keep you focused.

Remember to proactively create forums in which to be social! If your office’s kitchen was a place where the team would catch up and have quick informal chats, perhaps schedule a weekly “virtual kitchen chat” where the team dials in using your video conferencing platform of choice, with a cup of coffee and ready for a team catch up.

5. Unplug

One of the biggest struggles for remote workers is the ability to “unplug after work”. Be clear on your work and home boundaries and schedules, and stick to them. If you have finished your workday and you are now spending time with your family, be present in doing that. Do not constantly check your mails and respond to requests (crisis management is the exception here).

If your whole team works remotely, keep in mind that they will probably have different schedules than you and therefore you might be getting emails while you are not working. Ensure that there is enough overlap of working schedules between you and the rest of your team, so that there is “core” working hours where everyone is online and accessible. If you have that you will be more confident to not respond to emails at all hours of the day.

Remote working is the new norm for many people around the world. It will have its challenges, and it will also bring us many new opportunities to connect in a meaningful way. It will inspire us to be creative and innovative, and to think differently and redesign our worlds.

Let us embrace this extraordinary opportunity to create, connect, and collaborate in a different way. Let us be brave in trying out new methods and new tools. Let us be bold and make mistakes along the way and then be open enough to learn from them.

Finally, let us be kind to ourselves and each other, as we all navigate this new world we are responsible for creating together.

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